Released: 19 November 2015
David Bowie: vocals, guitar
Donny McCaslin: flute, saxophone, woodwinds
Ben Monder: guitar
Jason Lindner: piano, organ, keyboards
Tim Lefebvre: bass guitar
Mark Guiliana: drums
The title track of David Bowie’s final studio album, ★ (‘Blackstar’) was an elliptical, multi-faceted and cryptic masterpiece. At 9:58, it was his second longest recording, behind ‘Station To Station’.
Guitarist Ben Monder and bassist Tim Lefebvre both cited the song as among their favourite performances on the album.
There’s a couple, actually, that still completely blow my mind. Just from how I play the bass, the second two-thirds of ‘Blackstar’, when it goes from the middle section out, I had fun playing that.
Observer.com, 20 January 2016
‘Blackstar’ won Bowie two posthumous Grammy awards, for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance.
‘Blackstar’ was released as a digital download on 19 November 2015, the same day that the video was released on David Bowie’s YouTube and Vevo channels.
The song had originally been more than 11 minutes long, but was edited to 9:57 after Bowie and Tony Visconti learned that iTunes would not allow tracks for individual sale that lasted longer than 10 minutes.
It’s total bullshit, but David was adamant it be the single, and he didn’t want both an album version and a single version, since that gets confusing.
Rolling Stone, 23 November 2015
The song was a top ten hit in Japan and Portugal, and top 40 in Belgium, Hungary, Italy, and Switzerland. In the UK it peaked at 61 on the official singles chart, and on the US Billboard Hot 100 climbed no higher than 78.
On 8 January 2017, Sony Records in Japan released a 12″ red vinyl single, with ‘Blackstar’ on one side, and the radio edit of ‘Lazarus’ and ‘I Can’t Give Anything Away’ on the b-side. This was sold exclusively at the David Bowie Is exhibition in that country.
The single’s sleeve was die cut in the shape of a star. It came with a 12″ square insert with lyrics and credits in English and Japanese, and a poster.